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Every year before Christmas with family, Jason and I celebrate our own tradition over crab legs at home. We get the biggest juiciest legs we can find at Costco and enjoy them over dinner and wine.
Normal is normal
We started off strong. A mini vacation to San Francisco. Then camping with friends in Julien. Dinners and activities here and there. Maggie was growing and we were spending time training and developing her. Then after a four year debate we decided to get a second dog. And that’s when Orbit came into the picture. Ironically we picked her up May 5, the same day a year ago that Zoey went to heaven.
Orbit was a whole different puppy to Maggie and Zoey. She got into a bit of mischief, ate a tennis ball and the inside of a stuffed animal. A trip to the vet and $700 dollars later we put all the toys that could cause illness away. Business and potty training was the order of the day.
And then …
End of May we lost a friend. A little older than us in his 40’s. Someone who had been friend … who moved away to start again. But yet wasn’t able to quite turn his life around. The eternal Peter Pan – and our world was tipped.
Two weeks later …
My nephew and godson suffered from cardiac arrest. At 16 years old … my nephew who was born with a heart condition and already had a heart transplant was hospitalized at UCLA’s children’s hospital. The whole family mobilized and stayed vigil. But luck wasn’t on our side… and we lost him a week later.
The whole chain of events still seem surreal. Our whole family misses him terribly and we’ve all been terribly scarred. Our get togethers are fractured. The kids, his cousins …. affected by his departure. The adults still reeling from his death.
They say you never recover from losing a child. And even though he wasn’t our own … we are permanently scarred by it.
Being heavy isn’t comfortable.
When your heart is heavy it’s palpable. When someone asks you face to face “How Are You?” and you just want to scream from the depths of your heart … those that do not understand don’t know how to deal. Society doesn’t want to see, or be affected with your problems. They just want you to say “it’s ok”. So that they can go one with their normal lives.
Strength comes from unexpected places
But in times of sadness and grief we reconnected with those that showed their un-ending love and support. Old family members, friends … and in terms of Maggie and Orbit – “virtual” friends who extended their heartfelt support.
I don’t know how to explain why Ethan’s time was so short. But in this time of deep sadness and grief our dogs .. these two furry creatures … were the bridge to empathy and coping. In real life … friends and family showed up. And in our virtual life … our angels from social media showed up. And we were cradled in unending love and support.
But they are just dogs
Those who have lost a dog know the true meaning our dogs give us. They show up every day. They give love. They melt stress away. They activate the love emotion. And those we met through our dogs showed up. They gave their love and support and helped brighten our days.
Love is built between the pages
If life were a book … the story is often focused on the title and summary. The start of the chapters and end of chapters. But for us … in the ordinary moments of the 24 hours that make up a day … life is given depth between the pages. Those quiet moments when you experience joy and happiness. For us this year … we spent a lot of time “dealing” with life’s events. The quiet moments at home …. the quiet moments reading … the giggles … the simple pleasures … carried us.
Sarah Bessy is a blogger and she writes “I have come to believe that lifelong love often looks extraordinary, yes, but it’s because we are faithful to love well in the ordinary moments of our days”.
Another author I love, Glennon Doyle Melton write that life is “Brutiful”. It’s brutal …. and beautiful.
Love and pain …. and strength
Its been one hell of a rollercoaster year. In my younger years … I had 365 days of utter bliss. Carefree and happy. Nothing could go wrong. Nothing hurt me. Everything was new and exciting. This year … was a hard year. Life dealt a few lessons that we had to go through. The rubber really hit the road for us. Ethan’s passing was the hardest of all. And it’s a year of many losses. After Ethan, a friend’s wife passed in November. And as I write this, another friend’s daughter lies in hospice. Things do not look well for us.
God is looking for many angels this year … I guess.
And yet in spite of ALL this pain. Pain that I did not think was possible … I felt nothing … but love. And it’s given me strength.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
As cliche as this saying goes. I understand this now. I am humbled by this experience of life. The sun rises and it sets. Whatever happens happens. And all you can do is look at life with grace and humility.
I love my family for the love we have extended each other. Our friends that showed up … mean the world to me. Unforced friendship. Support that I didnt’ ask for. Support that wasn’t pretentious. Support that showed up.
I appreciate those friends I have made online. Through my dogs you have carried me in moments that you didn’t know.
I write this publically. Whomever reads it I don’t know. And yet its healing for me. I wanted to express my heartfelt thanks to those of you who have taken the time to extend their love openly … and even those that didn’t know the situation. I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for your love. Thank you for sharing your lives with us as we have shared our lives with yours.
The year is close to an end. And we’re hoping for a kinder 2017. From our family to yours. We thank you for your love this year. Who knows what next year will bring. But we have strength to know we’ll do just fine. We have love and that’s all we need.